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Customs officers meet with their union on BRA move

The National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) is hoping to meet again next week with officials of the Ministry of Finance to discuss outstanding matters related to the proposed transition of Customs & Excise Department employees into the umbrella Barbados Revenue Authority (BRA) on July 1.

Of particular concern to the workers and their official bargaining agent is the issue of appointments, with several customs officers, including top officials in the department, currently serving in acting positions.

During a two-hour meeting attended by close to 40 workers at the NUPW’s Dalkeith Road, St Michael headquarters today, they were given a status update by their union on a recent meeting held between the NUPW and finance officials.

The customs officers also raised the issue of supersession, while insisting that such matters must be addressed before the change over occurs in just under two months time.

Strong concern was also expressed about the impact of the change over on border security.

Acting NUPW General Secretary Roslyn Smith told reporters the union was specifically seeking to get the Government’s assurance that the BRA transition would be done to the satisfaction of the people of Barbados.

Acting General Secretary of the NUPW Roslyn Smith

Acting General Secretary of the NUPW Roslyn Smith

Smith said the NUPW was further interested in ensuring everything was in place in terms of the legislation, since the Customs & Excise Department had “a lot of pieces of rules, regulations and Acts”.

“We are asked to ensure that the workers are protected under the law,” she added.

The acting NUPW general secretary said the workers were promised a document on the transition to BRA, but to date they have not received one.

In all, 279 of the 300 officers currently employed by Customs will be affected by the move. It was not immediately clear what would happen to the remaining Customs & Excise staff, who were originally scheduled to transition into BRA by April 1.

In an interview with Barbados TODAY this afternoon, Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler called on all parties involved to settle their differences.

“As you can imagine, moving from public sector into statutory entity there are some challenges that would occur, but I am confident that the sides can sit down and work out so that each employee can be given what they are due, because the process has always been governed by the basic principle that people should not be placed at a disadvantage over their public sector status; that they should transfer to no less favourable [status] than what they are currently at,” Sinckler said.


Source: (NC/MM)

One Response to Customs officers meet with their union on BRA move

  1. dave May 9, 2015 at 11:51 am

    As head of a business that has interacted with the Customs for over many years and having made friends with a lot of hardworking Customs Officers, I am stating clearly that – The Government and its Minister of Finance know nothing about Customs and the way it functions. Neither do the mis-informed people at the Ministry of Finance who seem to have it in for the Department and its Officers whom they envy and who they say –work for too much money-(from Overtime) . The Overtime money is paid by us in the Business Community , it does not come from the Government , so why are they concerned about how much money Officers make in Overtime. And it is not every Officer who gets Overtime. An Officer has to work at certain points to get Overtime. So every Officer does not work for Overtime. I know some Officers who have never work for Overtime and who receive a basic salary that is the same as any other worker in Government.They-the people at the Ministry of Finance quarrel than Junior Officers can work for more money than them and that is a Bad thing, can build a house and buy a car which is owned by the Banks anyhow so you know what – destroy Customs –Raze it to the ground and let it rise again from the ashes like a Phoenix. Those persons at the Ministry of Finance are responsible for much of the confusion at the Department and this seeming rush to a Board –that I might add , will not enhance anything and a Board -The BRA which is failing anyhow because of its poor structure and poor leadership. And the Minister of Finance and the Government has gone along with this nonsense. The Right Excellent Errol Walton Barrow and the Right Honourable J.M.G.M ‘Tom’ Adams would have never messed with the Customs Department. They understood the importance of that Department to the economy of Barbados and they fully understood the importance of having a fully equipped staff who were well trained and rewarded.They would have never agreed to any tampering with the Department and any stupid uninformed move to any BRA. While such arrangements might work in Africa and some other places , the present move to BRA that wants to rope in the Customs Department is flawed, ill advised and should be scrapped . Trinidad scrapped the idea . Why not Barbados? The arrangement is not needed in Barbados. You need to make the Customs and the other Departments–Land Tax , Inland Revenue etc stronger by having transparency and Accountability and if you believe there are wrongdoers –identify them and deal with them but do not punish whole Departments by tarring everybody with the same brush -and destroying years of structure and practice to satisfy morbid personal selfish desires on the part of a few to the harm of the many–the citizens of Barbados.

    The only goal of the authorities in this matter is to reduce the amount of OVERTIME and Allowances that they believe that every Customs Officer receives when in fact it is only a few Officers in certain areas that receive such emoluments but who in general are grossly Underpaid, were never Regraded, work in Substandard Conditions, without adequate amenities, a brutal and inhumane work situation and many more ills that include lack of training, poor Communication from Management-No Staff Meetings, Unfair practices re Rotation of Staff, a Comptroller who was never a Customs Officer -(Wonder if the Police in Barbados would allow a Commissioner who was not a Career Policeman or the army a Brigadier who was not a Soldier )–How stupidd can we get–A Comptroller that knows nothing about Customs matters. There are many people out there who want to get their hands on the perceived big set of money, they say Customs Officers get and there are Officials at the Ministry of Finance who are punishing Officers who they say deferred studying for a Degree to instead work for Overtime as though it is a CRIME to work for OVERTIME. Officials from BRA and the Ministry of Finance have chided Officers who they say would not stop from working Overtime and go and study for a Degree, a University Degree that has little or anything to do with Customs Work. A degree in Management, Law, Accounting and Business does not prepare anyone for Customs work. Customs Work is a specialty area which is enhanced by years of practice and –‘Customs” .. And this is where the problem and confusion–of supersession comes. Like I said – The Right Excellent Errol Walton Barrow and the Right Honourable J.M.G.M ‘Tom’ Adams would have never messed with the Customs Department. but you have some imitations who profess to know but who cannot even fool a 5 year old child that they know , who are confusing the whole issue by appointing Officers who have degrees to act 4 grades above their substantive grade ahead of Officers who have the institutional knowledge and experience and while those so-called paper qualified Officers with the Degrees are paper qualified , they are not better than the experienced Officer who would have achieved their degrees through hard work and 30 and 40 years of experience. The experienced Officers are being cast aside like old wood without respect and reverence. This has hurt the morale of the Department and reduced its effectiveness. The Solution to the problem is to Remove the Acting Comptroller of Customs who is not qualified as a Customs Officer, not qualified for the position either by the Qualification Order or experience in the Job, nor by acumen and aptitude, Being Bombastic and Vindictive is not a requirement. Appoint Officers based on Seniority , eventually each person will get his/her turn–No need to jump ahead. This would end the Supercession which some might argue is not bad because you cant just promote somebody because they were there ‘long’. However Promotion by Seniority in Customs is a desired objective and it would work out because there are persons who do not want to be promoted anyhow, they do not want the stress, so spaces would be open up anyhow . But doing it by seniority is better because it is transparent and everybody would know and be aware and on board thus improving morale and increasing productivity. Right now you have some unfinished people in positions which they are not matured for and who are making a lot of decisions that are not good decisions. Scrap the move to BRA; Improve the general conditions of work and all the related areas. The move to BRA is unwise and will lead to much more confusion. As an independent Business entity that has contributed much to this country, we support the Officers in their quest and we hope that the this country wise -up and stop the folly of moving the Customs to the BRA. Stop unfairing the Officers and allow real Customs Officers with the experience to run the Department and forget the outsiders who are bombastic , loud and unnecessarily aggressive and vindictive and who know nothing about Customs, let them mind sheep and pigs not Customs Officers.


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